A variety of competing and complementary needs such as ecological health, human consumption, transportation, recreation, and economic value make management and protection of water resources in riverine environments essential. Thus, an understanding of the complex and interacting factors that dictate riverine water quality is essential in empowering stake-holders to make informed management decisions (see Chapter 1.15 for additional information on water resource management). Driven by natural and anthropogenic forcing factors, a variety of chemical, physical, and biological processes dictate riverine water quality, resulting in temporal and spatial patterns and cycling (see Chapter 1.2 for information describing how global change interacts with water resources). Furthermore, changes in climatic forcing factors may lead to long-term deviations in water quality outside the envelope of historical data. The goal of this chapter is to present fundamental concepts dictating the conditions of basic water quality parameters in rivers and streams (herein generally referred to as rivers unless discussing a speciﬁc system) in the context of temporal (diel (24 h) to decadal) longitudinal scaling. Understanding water quality scaling in rivers is imperative as water is continually reused and recycled (see also Chapters 3.1 and 3.15); upstream discharges from anthropogenic sources are incorporated into bulk riverine water quality that is used by downstream consumers. Water quality parameters reviewed here include temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen (DO), and suspended sediment and were selected given the abundance of data available for these parameters due to recent advances in water quality sensor technology (see Chapter 4.13 for use of hydrologic data in watershed management). General equations describing reactions affecting water temperature, pH, DO, and suspended sediment are included to convey the complexity of how simultaneously occurring reactions can affect water quality in rivers. Concepts presented in this chapter will provide a backdrop that other chapters in this book will explore further, including water quality in the following riverine systems: the Mississippi River (see Chapter 4.9), Hudson River (see Chapter 4.6), and rivers in India (see Chapter 4.10).
Additional publication details
Surface water quality in streams and rivers: introduction, scaling, and climate change: Chapter 5